The Mississippi State Health Department is committed to improving birth outcomes, including the rates of preterm birth, low birth-weight births, infant deaths and maternal deaths in our state.
In addition to the services for women and infants provided through MSDH, we are collaborating with other State and national experts, clinicians, community organizations and families to promote evidence-based practices and policies across the state to improve birth outcomes. At the center of all strategies is a focus on building collaborative partnerships, using data to drive practices and reducing disparities between all populations.
Mississippi has established the following priority areas:
- Reduce elective delivery at less than 39 weeks of pregnancy »
- Promote smoking cessation among pregnant women »
- Promote infant safe sleep practices »
- Expand access to interconception care through Medicaid »
- Increase access to and use of 17-P injections to reduce recurrent preterm birth »
- Increase breastfeeding among all groups of women »
- Improve geographically-targeted access to risk-appropriate care for mothers and infants
Reduce elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy
Early elective deliveries scheduled before full term gestation (39 weeks) for non-medical reasons carry an increased risk of neonatal respiratory distress, longer hospital stays and infant death.
MSDH encourages obstetric hospitals and providers to adopt policies that all planned deliveries under 39 weeks have a medical or obstetric reason.
Promote smoking cessation among pregnant women
Smoking or other tobacco use by the mother or in the mother's home can contribute to premature birth, low birth weight, and infant death. Pregnant women should receive evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling and support. The Office of Tobacco Control has special resources available to reduce smoking in pregnant women.
Promote Safe Sleep
Safe sleep practices – including putting infants to sleep alone, on their back, and in a crib – are a key part of preventing death in the first year of life from SIDS/SUID. Through its SIDS prevention program, MSDH is working to promote parent and community education about safe sleep environments.
Women should be as healthy as possible before they enter pregnancy. Interconception care focuses on reducing medical, social, and behavioral risk factors, particularly among women who have experienced a previous poor birth outcome such as a preterm birth or fetal/infant death.
Access to 17P
17P is a progesterone medicine that can help prevent preterm birth in pregnant women who have already had a preterm birth. Given in regular doses starting in the second trimester, it can delay delivery and ensure appropriate fetal development before birth. MSDH is working to expand awareness and access to 17P across the state.
Breastfeeding improves the nutritional status of infants, strengthens their brain development, and decreases their risk of diseases like asthma, obesity and diabetes. MSDH supports parent and community education about breastfeeding and hospital environments that support breastfeeding.
Perinatal Systems of Care
Preterm and low-birthweight infants have the highest chance of survival when they are delivered at hospitals with access to neonatal specialists, services and technology to meet all of their medical needs. Coordinated systems of care are needed to ensure that high-risk mothers and babies receive risk-appropriate care.
To learn more, or to become involved in the state workgroups to address these priority areas, contact Dr. Charlene Collier at Charlene.Collier@msdh.ms.gov